Saturday, April 6, 2013

Brando and Belushi

Marlon Brando, "The Wild One," 1953
Marlon Brando plays Johnny, a perfectly realized misunderstood anti-hero; the bad-ass biker with a heart of gold.  It's an iconic performance, not at all radical in retrospect.  He has his own moral code throughout the film;  it's part biker code (stay true to your tribe), part golden rule.  I was touched by his characters sentimentality, especially the way he offers his racing trophy to a girl he just met, to impress her; and throughout the film he repeatedly stops to protect that trophy when it falls to the ground.  Those little movements say much about his character.
John Belushi, "Animal House," 1978.
 Belushi was in his late twenties in Animal House when he played Bluto, which is about the right age for a character who at one point says "seven years of college down the drain!"  There are so many good performances, all great characterizations of asshole frat guys, the jerky dean, etc, but Belushi became the biggest, most recognizable star.  He only had a few great on screen performances, outside of Saturday Night Live, I'm afraid he'll only be a footnote in the future.  I grew up with him on SNL, but how long will that legacy endure?

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